“It all started with a handful of local guys who belonged to the Sebring Car Club,” said
MVOCC founding member Jim Proverb. “They wanted to form a more local group.”
The first meeting was held at the Southern Park Mall and several joined up, but there was little activity. Proverb said in 1978, another meeting was held at Roosevelt Park and Proverb was asked to take on the role of president, which he did.
That year, the club held its first car show at the old Austintown Middle School on Mahoning Avenue in Austintown. It was a good start and the Austintown show stayed strong into the early 1980s, according to Proverb.
Around the mid 1980s, the show was moved indoors at the Southern Park Mall. The classic cars were driven into the mall and Proverb said members stayed on guard to make sure no one messed with them.
“I walked around the mall like I was part of the police force that year,” Proverb said.
The following year, the annual show was moved to Boardman Park and it has since grown into one of, if not the biggest, annual car show in the Valley, attracting 300 to 400 classic and custom vehicles.
The club also continues its cruises every Tuesday night at Chick-fil-A in Boardman. Proverb said when the club started, they really didn’t have a weekly cruise, but were more into taking part in parades. Proverb said the cruises started at C Waffles on Market Street, bounced around to various other locations and eight years ago became a common sight at the Boardman Chick-fil-A.
Over the club’s 34 years, more than $70,000 has been donated to worthy causes in the Valley. The club selects a child in need each year to help and also donates to Hospice of the Valley. This year’s car show proceeds will benefit four-year-old Hunter Shaffer who is suffering from refractory epilepsy.
Today, the MVOCC continues to support children in needs by proceeds of the car cruises and the car show. It has grown to 214 members who all chip in and help the cause. At 34 years old, the club is now looking back on its own history as well.
Lora and Rich Stape from Berlin Center have contributed their own talents to the cause. Rich handles the club’s photography while his wife is busy putting the club’s history together.
“At a meeting three years ago, I spoke up and said a lot of the members are getting up in years. I made a motion to have a club historian and I got elected to the position,” Lora said.
She was handed several photo albums that are full of photos from the club’s early years. The problem is that there is not a lot of info about where the photos were taken or who is in them. She did run across the list of a dozen members who joined when the club was first formed. That list includes Steve Haus, Dale Queen, Bud Gane, Elmer Lydic who is the current president, Bill Walters, Dave and Terry Bayowski, Bill Beck, Proverb, Carl Ditmer, Pete Draia, Charley Stark, and Joe Phillips. She also found a roster that listed 75 members that first year.
“I’m trying to get all the old photographs from those early years identified,” she said. “It has been a tough process and I am not done yet.”
In 10 days, Lora will have another great car show to add to her club history. It won’t be a problem since she knows what is needed to preserve the memories. She will also have the help of her husband and his photographic skills.
“It takes people to keep the club going,” said Proverb.
For the upcoming Cars in the Park show, the people will be there. The club roster is full of classic car owners from the tri-county area and further. Lora said the farthest member at the present time is from Australia.
Each member gets a white T-shirt with the club logo on it. Proverb said when the club first started, the got the white shirts with red dress slacks. He still has his, but like most club members, chooses to wear jeans.
“I can’t fit in the red pants anymore,” he said.
Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
One of the Mahoning Valley Olde Car Club founders Jim Proverb, shows off the club’s original informal 'uniform,' including red dress slacks, to members Larry Green and Dee Tripp.